Rapist gets 90 yearsBy: WERNER MENGES
A 90-YEAR prison term on two charges of rape rewrote Namibia’s criminal justice record books in the High Court in Windhoek yesterday.
At the age of 37, Lüderitz resident Ralph Vukile Mtshibe – described as a devious monster who took on the guise of a good Samaritan in order to target young women at the southern harbour town – has become the recipient of the longest jail term yet imposed by a Namibian court in a rape case.
Judge Naomi Shivute convicted Mtshibe on two counts of rape and a charge of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm on November 29 last year. Yesterday, she sentenced him 45 years’ imprisonment on each of the rape charges, and to a one-year jail term on the assault charge.
With the sentence on the assault charge ordered to be served concurrently with the sentences on the rape charges, Mtshibe has effectively been sent to prison for a record 90 years.
The fact that Mtshibe has a previous rape conviction on his criminal record, which he started to build up in 1989, was the crucial factor that resulted in the severe sentence which Judge Shivute handed to him.
That previous conviction put Mtshibe at risk of being sentenced to a prison term of 45 years, which
is the minimum sentence prescribed in the Combating of Rape Act for someone convicted of rape for a second or subsequent time.
Judge Shivute found that no substantial and compelling circumstances which would justify a lighter sentence than the prescribed minimum term of 45 years had been presented to her.
The offences committed by Mtshibe are serious, the judge told him.
Mtshibe’s “conduct shows that he has no respect for women’s physical integrity and he does not attach any value to their dignity”, she commented.
“He goes around targeting young women who are new in Lüderitz pretending to be a good Samaritan, yet he is a monster with a devious mind, and planned to take them to a secluded place in order to rape them to satisfy his sexual desires,” she said.
She also remarked: “The accused is a callous rapist, and from the evidence I conclude that the complainant must have had a terrifying experience.”
In his trial before Judge Shivute, Mtshibe was accused, and finally convicted, of having raped a 19-year-old woman twice at Lüderitz on December 17 2005.
He was also accused of having kidnapped and raped an 18-year-old woman at Lüderitz on December 13 2003. He was found not guilty on those charges, but was convicted of having assaulted that woman.
The prosecution alleged that the incident on December 17 2005 occurred when Mtshibe forced the woman to accompany him to a spot outside the town, where he raped her. He was also accused of having held her captive as he forced her to go with him to his room, where he again raped her.
The complainant in respect of those charges was visiting Lüderitz and was looking for the place where her aunt was working, when she met a man who offered to assist her to find the place she was looking for. He however then took her to a spot on the outskirts of the town, where he raped her the first time, she told the court.
Mtshibe denied having met the complainant or raping her. However, DNA matching Mtshibe’s DNA was found in that complainant’s private parts, with the court told that there was a chance of one in 450 billion that someone else might have the same DNA profile.
Judge Shivute said in light of the DNA evidence which linked Mtshibe to that complainant she was satisfied that it had been proven that he was the person who had raped the young woman.
Following Mtshibe’s conviction, the court was informed that he has a criminal record of ten previous convictions.
These started in 1989 and went up to 2008, and include convictions for housebreaking, theft, robbery, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and assault, the court was told.
Most importantly, though, Mtshibe was also convicted of rape previously. For that crime, which was committed at Lüderitz in 1995, he was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment, of which two years were suspended, in January 1997.
Mtshibe’s past and present conduct of resorting to violence or rape is an aggravating factor, justifying his removal from society by the imposition of the minimum sentence prescribed in the Combating of Rape Act, Judge Shivute said yesterday.
Mtshibe was represented by defence lawyer Tabitha Mbome, on instructions from the Directorate of Legal Aid, during his trial. State advocate Innocentia Nyoni prosecuted.